Cities have increasingly realised the value of creating a distinctive and enduring brand image to attract residents, tourists and business. Many have turned to overhauling their existing brand in the quest for a more impactful, contemporary and authentic positioning. Examples such as IAmsterdam, See Change Newcastle, Belfast and Melbourne spring to mind. Done well, rebranding strategies can revitalise a city and “put it back on the map”. Yet it is quoted that 86% of city branding campaigns fail.

The key is to delve in depth into a city’s characteristics, its essence, its people and then align this to a single big idea. Addressing the central question of the city’s identity is imperative. Any branding strategy must capture all of the nuances that help shape a city’s identity. Successfully transformed cities have three overarching elements that are critical and non-optional to successful Place Branding Transformation:

Creating an entirely new, easy to grasp strategic positioning that becomes the long term underpinning foundation of what the reinvented city’s brand stands for.

A constantly ongoing, easy-to-understand and motivating public narrative – with vital local media support – of the totally new positioning and vision, detailing the ‘why’ and ‘how’
of the type of entirely new, high quality recreational experiences and infrastructure to completely revitalise and transform those stagnant cities.

A totally repositioned, completely new long-term integrated marketing, publicity and communications campaign for the city’s entirely new brand, on a sufficient scale to significantly raise local and national awareness of the transformation of the city / destination.

It is important to remember that Place Branding Strategies require time for their creation and implementation. It takes time to build credibility around a city brand and as such a willingness to invest in the long term vision is essential. As such, the Project Goals should reflect a long term view and an appreciation of the complexity of components that require inclusion within the Place Branding Strategy in order to achieve success.